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expects from them a full confession of his divinity. Observe, 2. The answer returned, 1. By the apostles in general: And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some Elias; some Jeremias. It is no new thing, it seems, to find diversity of judgments and opinions concerning Christ and the affairs of his kingdom. We find that when our Saviour was amongst men, who daily both saw and heard him, yet there was then a diversity of opinions concerning him. 2. Peter, in the name of the rest, and as the mouth of all the apostles, makes a full and open confession of his being the Son of God: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. Whence note, That the veil of Christ's human nature did not keep the eye of his disciples' faith from seeing him to be the Son of God as well as the Son of man; Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. Observe, 3. How highly pleased our Saviour was with this confession; he pronounces Peter, and the rest in him, blessed, who had by him made this christian confession: Blessed art thou, Simon ; and tells him, 1. What did not enable him to make that confession, .V-/ flesh and blood: that is, not man, nor the wisdom and reason of man. 2. But, positively, God the Father, by the operation of his Spirit, and the dispensation of the gospel, has wrought this divine faith in you, and drawn forth this glorious confession from you, that I am indeed the Son of God. Thence learn, That no man can savingly believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, and Saviour of the world, but he in whom God himself by his holy Spirit has wrought such a persuasion by the ministry of the gospel.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build ray church ; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Observe here, 1. As Peter confessed Christ, so Christ confesses him: Peter said, Thou art Christ: Christ says, Thou art Peter, alluding to his name, which signifies a rock; he having made good that title, by the strength, stahility, and firmness of his faith. Observe, 2. A double promise made by Christ to Peter. 1. For the building: 2. For the upholding of his church. For the building of his church; 1. Upon this rock Tcill I build my church. Upon what rock i "Upon Peter, the rock confessing," say the Papists: but if so, no more is said of Peter here, than of all the
apostles elsewhere, Gal. ii. 9. James and John are called pillars as well as Peter. So that Peter's superiority over the rest-of the apostles can with no show of reason be from hence inferred. "Upon Christ the Rock confessed," say the Protestants; for Christ is the Foundation-Stone, upon which his church is built, Ephes. ii. 20. Ye are built upon the foundation o f the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chieJ'Coriier-Stone. So then, not upon Peter the rock confessing, but upon Christ the Rock confessed, and upon the rock of Peter's confession, that fundamental truth, That Christ is the Son of the living God, is the church built. Upon this rock will I build my church; Super hanc eonfessionis tua ; Petrarn tcdificabo ecclesiam meam. Yet Christ may here be said to build his church upon Peter, because he used St. Peter's ministry in laying the foundation of a christian church amonj* the Jews and Gentiles; he being the first preacher of that faith which he here confessed, first to the Jews, Acts ii. and then to the Gentiles, Acts x. And accordingly, St. Peter's conversion of three thousand souls by his ministry, Acts ii. 41. is looked upon by some as a punctual fulfilling of this promise here made unto him. He was styled the rock, because he laid the foundations of faith among the nations, that is, the first foundations of a christian church in the world. Whence it appears, tliat in this matter St. Peter neither had nor can have a successor; but if the Pope will pretend to be his successor in this affair, he must not sit at Rome, lording it there over God's heritage, but must go in person to the unbelieving Jews, and unconverted heathens, as Peter did; and labour by his preaching to bring over the Turk, the Jew, and the infidel, to christianity. Observe next, our Saviour's promise for the upholding, as well as the building, of his church: The gates of hell shall not prevail against it; that is, all the policy and power of the devil and his instruments shall neither destroy my church, nor extinguish the light of this divine truth, which thou hast now made confession of; namely, " That 1 am the true Messias, the Son of the living God." Note, 1. That Jesus Christ is the Builder, and will be the Upholder, of his church. 2. That the church, upheld by Christ's power and promise, shall never be vanquished by the devil's policy or strength: Upon this rock, Sfc. and the gates, Sec. By the gates of hell understand, 1. The
wisdom of hell; gates being the seat of counsel. 2. The censures and sentence of hell, gates being the place of judicature. 3. By the gates of hell, understand the arms and power of hell, gates being a place of strength and guards. So that when Christ secures against hell, he secures against all that receive their commission from hell: neither hell, nor any envenomed by hell, shall prevail against my church.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven ; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Observe here, 1. The person to whom this promise is made, namely, to Peter, with the rest of the apostles: the confession being made by him in the name of the rest. Elsewhere we find the same authority and power given to them all, which is here committed unto Peter; John xx. 23. Whose sins soever ye remit, they are remitted. Although there might be a priority of order amongst the apostles, yet no superiority of power was founded in any one of them over and above the rest Observe, 2. The power promised; I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of-heaven; that is, tlie key of doctrine, and the key of discipline, or full power and authority to preach the gospel, to administer sacraments . and execute church-censures. The speech is metaphorical, and alludes to stewards and officers in great houses, to whose trust the keys of the household are committed. Christ's ministers are the stewards of his house, into whose hands the keys of his church are committed by Christ: the Pope would snatch them out of all hands, and keep them in his own; he snatches at Peter's keys, but makes shipwreck of Peter's faith: arrogating Peter's power, but abrogating his holy profession. Learn, 1. That the authority and power which the ministers of the gospel do exercise and execute, is from Christ! J will give thee the keys of the kingdom. 2. That this power of the keys Christ dispensed promiscuously to all his apostles, and never designed it as peculiarly for St. Peter. As they all made the same profession of faith by Peter, so they all received the same authority and power with Peter. And, accordingly, the apostles exercised their office independently of Peter, in converting those of the circumcision as well as
he. And St. Paul, who was the apostle of the Gentiles, opened the kingdom of heaven to far more Gentiles than ever Peter did; and therefore had this key of the kinf dotn of heaven given to him, as much as to St. Peter.
20 Then charged he his disciples, that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
That is, till after his resurrection. It may seem strange that our Saviour should charge his disciples to tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ, seeing the knowledge of it was so necessary. The reason is conceived to be: 1. Because the glory of his godhead was not to be fully manifested till after his resurrection, and then to be published by himself, and confirmed by his own miracles. 2. Lest the knowledge of it should have hindered his death: for, had the rulers known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Learn, That Christ has his own fit times, and proper seasons, in which he reveals his own mysteries to the world. 3. That Christ was so intent upon his laying down his life for sinners, that he would not have his death hindered I>y an untimely declaration of his being truly and really God; after his death it was that he declared himself to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead.
21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Observe, 1. The wisdom of our Saviour, in acquainting his disciples with the near approach of his death and sufferings. This he did for several reasons: 1. To let them understand that he was really God, (as they had just before confessed him to be,) by his foreknowing and foretelling things to come. 1. To convince them of their error, in apprehending that his kingdom was of this world, and that he was to reign here as a temporal Prince. 3. To prevent their being offended at his sufferings, and to prepare them for their own; that they might neither shrink at them, nor sink under them. Observe, 2. The persons foretold by Christ, that should be the bloody actors in the tragedy of his death: namely, Uie
rulers and chief priests: it was the poor that received Christ, and embraced the gospel; it was the great ones of the world that rejected him, and set him at nought; and the rulers both in ehurch and state condemned and crucified him.
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
No doubt Peter spake all this out of a sincere intention, and with a singular affection towards our Saviour; but pious intentions and good affections will not justify unwarrantable actions. From this counsel of St. Peter to Christ, we learn, 1. How ready flesh and blood is to oppose all that tends to suffering: Master, spare thyself. 2. What need have we to be fortified against the temptations of friends as well as ot enemies; for Satan can make good men his instruments to do his work when they little think of it . Peter little suspected that Satan set him on work to hinder the redemption of mankind, by dissuading Christ from dying. But observe in the next verse with what indignation Christ rejects Peter's advice.
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savotirest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Christ looked upon Peter with anger and displeasure: Christ heard Satan speaking in Peter. It was Peter's tongue, but Satan tuned it^j therefore Christ calls Peter by Satan's name; they that will do the devil's work, shall have the devil's name too. He that would hinder the redemption of mankind, is Satan, an adversary to mankind. From our Saviour's smart reproof given to Peter, learn, That no love or respect to men's persons or piety must draw us to flatter them in their sins, or cause us to speak lightly of their sins. From our Saviour's resolution not to favour himself, notwithstanding Peter's advice, learn, That so intent was the heart of Christ upon the great work of man's redemption, that he could not bear the least word that should obstruct him in it, or divert him from it.
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Observe here, 1. How our Saviour recommends his religion to every man's choice; not attempting by force and violence to compel any to the profession of it. If any man wilt come after me: that is, if any man choose and resolve to be a cliristian. 2. Our Saviour's terms propounded: 1. Self-denial, Let him deny himself By which we are not to understand the denying and renouncing of our reason in matters of religion: but by self-denial is meant, that we should be willing to part with all our earthly comforts, and quit all our temporal enjoyments, for the sake of Christ and his holy religion. 2. Gospel-suffering, He must take up his cross: an allusion to a Roman custom, that the malefactor who was to be crucified, took his cross upon his shoulder, and carried it to the place of execution. Where note, Not the making of the cross for ourselves, but the patient bearing of it when God lays it upon our shoulder, is the duty enjoined: Let him take up his cross. 3. Gospel-service, He must follow me; that is, obey my commands, and follow my example: he must set my life and doctrine continually before him, and must be daily correcting and reforming his life by that rule and pattern. See on Luke ix. 23.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Observe here, 1. That the love of this temporal life is a great temptation to men to deny Christ, and to renounce his holy religion. 2. That the surest way to attain eternal life, is cheerfully to lay down a mortal life, when the glory of Christ and his service calleth us thereunto.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or, what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Learn, 1. That God has intrusted every one of us with a soul of inestimable worth and preciousness, capable of being saved or lost, and that to all eternity. 2. That the gain of the whole world is not comparable with the loss of one precious soul. The soul's loss is an incomprehensible and irrecoverable loss.
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
There is two-fold judgment spoken of by this evangelist, St. Matthew, namely, a particular coming of Christ to execute vengeance on the Jews at the destruction of Jerusalem; and a general coming at the day of judgment. If we understand this place of the latter, we have then. 1. The Judge described, The Son of man, he who was and is both God and Man, shall judge both angels and m?n. 2. The splendour of that day declared, He shall come in glory with his holy angels. The attendance of angels shall be required by Christ, not for necessity, but for majesty. 3. The work and business of that day demonstrated, and that is, To render to every man according to his work. Leam, That the judgment of the great day will be most glorious and righteous: Christ will be glorious in his person, and glorious in his attendants; and the judgment will be according to righteousness, without respect of persons, according to what has been done in the body.
28 Verily 1 say unto you, There be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
A threefold sense and interpretation is given of these words. 1. Some will have them refer to our Saviour's transfiguration, mentioned in the next chapter: as if he had said, " Some of you, as Peter, James, and John, shall shortly see me upon mount Tabor in such glory as I will come in to judgment." 2. Others understand the words of Christ's exercising his kingly power in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation; which St. John did live to see. 3. Others refer the words to the time of the gospel after Christ's resurrection and ascension, when the gospel was propagated and spread far and near, according to St. Mark ix. 1. There arc some standing here, that shall not taste of death tilt they see the kingdom of God come -with power; that is, till they see the increase and enlargement of the church by the gospel. Thence note, That where the gospel is powerfully preached and cheerfully obeyed, there Christ cometh most gloriously in his kingdom.
CHAP. XVII. A ND after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was
transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
The former part of this chapter gives us an account of our Saviour's glorious transfiguration; he laid as it were the garments of frail humanity and mortality aside for a little time, and assuming to himself the robes of majesty and glory, the rays of his divinity darted forth; his face shined with a pleasing brightness, and his raiment with such a glorious lustre, as did at once both dazzle and delight the eyes of the beholders. Here observe, 1. The reasons of our Lord's transfiguration. 1. To demonstrate and testify the truth of his divinity, that he was Christ the Son of the living God: according to St. Peter's confession just before. This divine glory was an evidence of his divine nature. 2. Christ was thus transfigured, to prefigure the glory of his second coming to judgment, when he shall be admired of his saints, as here he was admired by his disciples. Observe, 2. The choice which our Saviour makes of the witnesses of his transfiguration, his three disciples, Peter, James, John. But why disciples? why three disciples? why these three? 1. This transfiguration was a type and shadow of the glory of heaven: Christ therefore vouchsafes the earnest and firstfruits of that glory only to saints; upon whom he intended to bestow the full harvest. 2. Three disciples were witnesses sufficient to testify this miracle. Judas was unworthy of this favour: yet lest he should murmur or be discontented at his being left out, others are also left out besides him. 3. These three, rather than others; because, 1. These disciples are more eminent for grace, zeal, and love to Christ; and, consequently, are most highly dignified and honoured by him. The most eminent manifestations of glory are made by God to those that are most eminent in grace. 2. These three were witnesses of Christ's agony and passion; to prepare them for which, they are here made witnesses of his transfiguration. This glorious vision from mount Tabor fitted them to abide the terrors of mount Calvary. Leam, That those whom God singles out for the greatest trials, he will fit beforehand with the best enablements.
3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias, talking, with him.
Observe here, The glorious attendants
upon our Saviour at his glorious transfiguration; they were two, two men; and these two men, Moses and Elias. This bane but a glimpse of Christ's glory, not a full manifestation of it, only two of the glorified saints attend upon Christ at it: when he shall come in his full glory, ten thousand of thousands shall attend him. These two attendants were two men, not two angels; because men were more nearly concerned in what was done; they were not only spectators, but partners. Man's restoration was Christ's principal aim; the angels' confirmation his less principal design. But why Moses and Elias? 1. Moses the giver of the law, and Elias the chief of the prophets, attending both upon Christ, did show the consent of the law and the prophets with Christ, and their fulfilling and accomplishment in him. 2. Because these two were the most laborious servants of Christ, both adventured thsir lives in God's cause, and therefore are highly honoured by Christ. Such as honour him, be wilt honour.
4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be liere: if ihou wilt, let us make here three tabernac les ; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
Observe here, 1. The person supplicating, Peter. No doubt the other two, James and John, were much affected, but Peter is more fervent and forward; yet there is no arguing, with the papists, from his fervency to his superiority; his personal prerogatives were not hereditary, Observe, 2. The Person supplicated, Jesus; not Moses, nor Elias: the disciples make no prayer, no suit to them, but to Christ only. Prayers to saints departed are both vain and unlawful. Observe, 3. The supplication itself, and that was, for their continuance where they were: It is good fir us to be bere. O what a ravishing comfort is the fellowship of the saints! but the presence of Christ among them renders their joys transporting. Observe, 4. Their proffer of service to further this continuance: Let us make three tabernacles. This motion was well meant and devout. Si Peter will stick at no cost nor pains for rhe enjoyment of Christ's presence and his saints' company ; yet was the motion unadvised and rash. St. Peter erred in desiring a perpetuity of that condition which
was but transient and momentary. This vision was only a taste of glory, not a full repast. He errs, in that hie would bring down heaven to earth, and take up with Tabor instead of heaven. He errs, in that he would enter upon the possession of heaven's glory without suffering, and without dying. Peter would be clothed upon, but was not willing to be unclothed. Learn, 1. That a glimpse of glory is enough to wrap a soul into eestasy, and to make it out of love with worldly company. 2. That we are apt to desire more of heaven upon earth, than God will allow: we would fain have the heavenly glory come down to us, but we are unwilling to go by death to that: we know not what we say when we talk of felicity in tabernacles upon earth.
5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and, behold, a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Observe here, 1. A cloud was put before the disciples' eyes, for two reasons. 1. To allay the lustre and resplendency of that glory which they were swallowed up with. As we cannot look upon the sun in its full brightness, but under a cloud by reflection; so the glory of heaven is unsupportable, till God vails it, and shelters us from the surcharge of it. 2. A cloud overshadows them, to hinder their farther prying and looking into the glory. We must be content to behold God here through a cloud darkly; ere long we shall see him face to face. Observe, 2. The testimony given by God the Father out of the cloud concerning Jesus Christ his Son: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Here note, 1. The dignity of his person, he is a Son, therefore, for nature co-essential, fordignity co-equal, for duration co-eternal, with the Father; and a beloved Son, because of his likeness and conformity to him. A father's likeness is the cause of love; an union of wills causes a mutual endearing of affections. Note, 2. The excellency of his mediation, In whom I am well pleased. Christ in himself was most pleasing to God the Father, and in and through him he is well pleased with all believers. Christ's mediation for us makes God appeasable to us. Note, 3. The authority of his doctrine; Hear him: not Moses and Elias, who were servants, but